End the Blacklist!
Own up! Clean up! Pay up!
The recent death of Richard Laco on a Laing O’Rourke building site in Kings Cross has again raised the issue of construction safety to centre stage. A silent vigil for Richard was organised by the Construction Safety Campaign and was attended by family members and the girlfriend of the deceased building worker.
Recent figures show that construction deaths have soared in London and even Laing O’Rourke’s own internal reports state that there has been a “huge rise” in hazards and near misses on their sites last year.
Laing O’Rourke have adopted a harsh anti-union stance on their projects and officials from construction unions have been banned from their sites in London and Liverpool. Where unions have elected safety reps on sites in London, the company has denied them facilities expected in legislation.
Laing O’Rourke and their wholly owned electrical contractor Crown House are also proven blacklisters of union members who raise concerns about safety on building sites. They are defendants in the blacklisting High Court claim being brought by Guney Clark & Ryan whose first hearing is November 29th.
Because of their anti-union attitude and systematic blacklisting of safety reps, Laing O’Rourke will be a target of the Blacklist Support Group on the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting on November 20th.
The biggest companies in the UK construction industry run a blacklist of workers who complain about unpaid wages or raise concerns about safety. Thousands of honest building workers have been repeatedly sacked from jobs and forced into unemployment because of this illegal blacklist. Blacklisting is not a thing of the distant past; it happened on the Olympics and it was still happening on Crossrail earlier this year.
The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is calling on all supporters, Trades Councils and trade union branches to organise an event in your area for the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting on 20 November.
BSG suggests groups should protest outside a building site being run by a blacklisting company or should target a public body still using blacklisting firms to provide public services. This is an official TUC sponsored Day of Action, so all unions in an area should work together to coordinate action.
Whether it is a protest, a media event or direct action please take pictures and post on social media and contact the local press to ensure the story runs everywhere.
Use the hashtags #blacklisting #N20 #BSG
Ideas to maximise the chances of getting media coverage:
Blacklisted T-shirts, banners, placards, PA (play some music not just speakers on a megaphone), hand in a giant oversized protest letter, inflatable rat, it’s just been firework night so make a guy in a suit with a Cullum McAlpine face mask, blacklisted workers have been locked out of work so a big padlock & chain might come in handy. Whatever you do – make it visual. Blacklist Support Group Blog
7:00am – Protest at Laing O’Rourke, Cheesegrater, Leadenhall St, City of London (opposite LloydsBuilding)
10:00am – Protest at Laing O’Rourke, Francis Crick Medical Research Centre, Kings Cross (behind the British Library)
1:00pm – TUC protest with MPs & 4 union General Secretaries, College Green, Parliament Sq, Westminster
2:00pm – TUC Lobby of MPs, House of Commons
3:30pm – House of Commons Committee Room 11 – John McDonnell MP chairs BSG meeting speakers: Sean Curran (GCR solicitors for High court claim) & blacklisted workers.
12:00pm – STUC protest outside Holyrood
1:00pm – film show inside Holyrood organised by Neil Findlay MSP
Transport from Glasgow via: [email protected]
7.30am – Meet at John Smith House, Glasgow
8.45am – transport to Edinburgh
10.30am – Meet in Edinburgh with East coast activists
12 noon – Demonstrate at Scottish Parliament.
12:00 WTUC event – Senedd media briefing room. Speakers include Andy Richards Unite, Nick Blundell UCATT, Martin Hird GMB and Jane Hutt the finance minister.
Anyone wishing to attend contact: [email protected]
7:15am – ManchesterTown Hall protest against NG Bailey – organised by BSG – speakers include blacklisted workers: Graham Bowker, Colin Trousdale, George Tapp
6.45am – AlderHeyHospital – L12 2AP – Laing O’Rourke – organised by BSG
Fight the Tory Witch-hunt against Unite! What Tory hypocrisy! After years and even decades of fighting the injustices suffered by workers over blacklisting, the Shrewsbury Pickets, the miners at Orgreave and the families of the dead and maimed at Hillsborough, in the aftermath of Grangemouth, Cameron rushes out an inquiry into the legitimate and peaceful leverage strategy. No mention of an investigation into the real bully-boy Jim Ratcliffe of Ineos who put a loaded gun to the head of thousands of workers and blackmailed a workforce and a community, even a nation. No, he actually gets £134million in government grants and loan guarantees and even £40million off the plant’s fuel bills!
The NSSN gives its full support to Unite and its members and calls on the whole union movement to come to its aid. If any measures are taken against the union, there should be solidarity across the trade unions in the same spirit as the mass action in 1972 that freed the Pentonville dockers. Then, in the face of mass rank & file strikes forcing the TUC to call a general strike, the Tory government of Ted Heath backed down.
We must continue with tactics like leverage which played the key role in getting sacked construction electrician Frank Morris his job back on Crossrail by exposing the blacklisters. But we must re-dedicate ourselves to campaigning for the repeal of Thatcher’s anti-union laws while supporting those workers like the Sparks who challenged them when they defeated the BESNA. Solidarity – all fight together!
Want to get more involved in the NSSN? Come to one of our regional conferences. If there’s not yet one organised in your area, get in touch to either assist in organising or have a speaker at one of your meetings or events. Contact Rob or Linda on [email protected]
Yorkshire NSSN conference November 23 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE
Midlands NSSN conference November 30 12pm-4pm, Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham Flyer can be downloaded here
Southern NSSN conference – Building the Fightback against Austerity January 18 2pm-5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell (hosted by UNITE Bracknell)
8th Annual NSSN ConferenceSaturday 5 July 2014 in London.
Current disputes and forthcoming action
Higher Education Date set for university pay talks, despite some universities paying ‘misery’ increase. The next strike is set for Tuesday 3 December if talks do not bring about an end to the dispute.
News from the individual unions concerned at their websites:-
Post Office Staff in the country’s network of 372 Crown post offices will take a thirteenth round of strike action next Wednesday (20 November) for half a day along with staff working in admin and supply chain functions (supplying cash to post offices) who will take their first full day of strike action in a dispute over pay. The action is being coordinated with managers in Post Office Supply Chain represented by Unite who will also be on strike on the 20th. In addition, from Thursday 21 November Crown post office workers will boycott financial services sales for eight consecutive days, as the union steps up its action in the period leading up to Christmas.
UPS Parcels Parcel deliveries in London could be severely hit in the run-up to Christmas, after staff at UPS Parcels voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over unreasonable workloads and alleged bullying. The 120 drivers and loaders who work at the Camden depot – the biggest UPS depot in Europe – have voted by a massive 91 per cent to take strike action. Last ditch negotiations with the Regis Street management are due to be held on Wednesday 20 November, but if these fail, strike action will go-ahead before the end of the month.
Transforming Rehabilitation DisputeNapo launched its campaign of Industrial Action Short of Strike Action across England and Wales Probation Trusts on Thursday 14 November.
Firefighters’ Pensions Firefighters are being urged to vote ‘yes’ in a ballot on additional, non-strike action over pensions. FBU officials across the country have reported that firefighters are keen to campaign in other ways on non-strike days to maximise pressure on the government. As a result, the FBU’s executive council decided to hold a vote of members over other forms of action. This vote will supplement but not replace the current strike ballot, and the FBU is urging members to take part in the ballot and vote ‘Yes’ to provide additional tools for firefighters to use to defend their pensions. The ballot closes on 4 December 2013
BBC bullying and payBBC executives rejected union demands last week on new arrangements for bullying and harassment complaints, and announced that from March 2014 flexibility payments would be rolled into salaries for existing staff, and withdrawn from new staff. Union negotiators warned that if the management’s unexpected announcements were an attempt to derail long-running talks on respect at work and a new pay structure, the unions would have no choice but to respond with an industrial action ballot.
University of Central LancashireUCU announced it will fight plans to axe 75 jobs at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). At a packed meeting, UCU members vowed to resist any efforts by the university to make compulsory redundancies and would not rule out strike action.
A brief round-up of other union updates
Curzon Cinemas to recognise BECTU After months of campaigning members in Curzon have won the right to union representation. Arthouse cinema chain Curzon has agreed “in principle” to recognise BECTU as its partner in collective bargaining for hundreds of staff, after a campaign which began this summer. More
Flybe base closures a blow for pilots and UK Flybe’s announcement that it will close six bases and make 179 pilots redundant is a blow to the entire profession, and to the UK’s transport infrastructure according to the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA). The airline will close its bases at Aberdeen, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey and Newcastle. All other bases except Manchester will see a reduction in pilot numbers. Knock-on effects on routes are not yet known. More
Downbanding beaten back in Berkshire All physiotherapy staff have retained their band gradings after a restructuring plan was challenged at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. More
RMT steps up campaign against agency attacks on rail jobs Rail union RMT said it is stepping up the campaign against attempts by agencies, notably Trainpeople, to force their way into the rail industry with the express intent of profiteering at the expense of jobs, security and decent pay and conditions. More
442,934 Young Unpaid Carers In England and Wales 442,934 young people aged under 25 provide unpaid care each week. This is 7.6% of all persons providing unpaid care and is 2.6% of all young people aged under 25. More
Camden Council Attacks Working Musicians Camden Council last week voted to introduce punitive measures against buskers in the borough from early 2014. The Musicians’ Union attended the council hearing to support its busking members in the borough, but the policy was voted through by a 26 to 17 majority. This means that buskers will have to pay for licences in order to busk and will risk large fines and having their instruments confiscated if they fail to adhere to the requirements of the policy. More
Concessionary Fuel reinstated Making the announcement at Thoresby Colliery, near Edwinstowe, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne revealed that the government will guarantee the allowance for around 400 mine workers who lost their jobs after UK Coal went into administration. The Government will also guarantee the allowance for around 1,000 retired workers previously employed by the company. The news comes following pressure on the Government from pensioners, all mining unions and the TUC. More
Home Office unfairly sacked union official An employment tribunal has ruled that the Home Office unfairly sacked a trade union rep because of his union activities; and ordered his reinstatement. Home Office management in Liverpool’s Capital Building dismissed local rep Kevin Smith, 26, after he complained that managers had victimised him because of his trade union activities. More
RMT demands end to train companies dumping sewage on tracks Rail union RMT have issued a renewed call for an end to the shocking practice of private train companies dumping human sewage on the railway tracks after a Government minister was forced to admit this week that the practice is “utterly disgusting”. More
Unite strikes fair deal for the women of Hypertac Unite has won a fairer settlement for the women of Hypertac, 30 days after the company announced it was shutting its North London site and laying off the workforce by Christmas. More
Unite secures major payouts for former Southampton city council employees Unite has secured the restoration of £2.8 million to the pay bill of Southampton city council plus compensation worth £65,000 to workers made redundant. While Southampton city council was under a Conservative led administration in 2010-2011, council leaders took the decision to ruthlessly dismiss all its workers and re-engage them on inferior terms and conditions – equivalent to a pay cut of up to 5.5 per cent. Unite believed that Southampton city council had failed to consult for the full 90 days as required. The matter was successfully settled without the need for a full Employment Tribunal hearing with 90 former employees of the Council receiving just over £65,000 and the phased restoration of pay cuts to remaining staff reasonably estimated to be £2.8 million. More
Other news and events
Celebration of Hovis Workers Victory against Zero Hours Contracts on November 30th Wigan trades union council presents a celebration of Hovis workers’ historic strike against austerity and low wages – Saturday afternoon 30 November @ Whelley labour club, Northumberland street, Wigan WN1 3PZ (off the Whelley) 1.00pm–6.00pm
All trade unionists and their families welcome to a feast of music, entertainment, speeches and resistance to austerity. Speakers from Bakers Union, Hovis, Firefighters, Posties, Teachers, Civil Servants, Local Government, and others. PLUS Theatre, Comedy, Music and Food.
Contact 07719 572001 for more information or see the BFAWU website
NHS Support Federation latest blog here
Much of the week’s international news in the media has concentrated on the devastating typhoon in the Philippines and the election of a socialist councillor in Seattle for the first time in 100 years. Here are a few links:-
Philippines typhoon Solidarity urged on typhoon relief efforts for Filipino seafarers Nautilus International
UNISON NI offers support to the PhilippinesUnison
Seattle Interview with victorious candidate Kshama Sawant on MSNBC here
Washington Post article here
Seattle Times article here
Journalists should be able to work safely and freely in Sri Lanka The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has joined its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland (NUJ), in calling on the authorities in Sri Lanka to ensure journalists can work freely and safely in the country. The call follows reports that a news team from the UK’s Channel 4 TV station were mobbed by pro-government supporters in Sri Lanka on Wednesday 13 November. More
Madrid calls in emergency street cleaners amid strike see BBC website
Stop the killing Canadian steelworkers tell ministers see United Steelworkers website
Georgian railway workers plan to go on strike see Trend news agency website
Support Gazprom workers rights in Russia see IndustriALL website
November 20TUC Day of Action against Blacklisting: As part of the Day of Action there will be a Lobby of Parliament to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry. Assemble on OldPalace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament at 13:00
November 20 National Day of Action – Stop the privatisation of student debt. Co-ordinated by the Student Assembly Against Austerity.
November 23 Yorkshire NSSN conference – 10am-4pm, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, Leeds LS1 4AE
November 23 Birmingham – A student conference to organise against cuts, privatisation and outsourcing, in solidarity with workers’ struggles, and for liberation organised by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Register here
November 29 Teaching Assistants’ celebration day. More here
November 30 Midlands NSSN conference: 12noon-4pm Unite offices in Broad Street, Birmingham
November 30 Brighton demonstration of Solidarity with Russian LGBTQ People “To Russia with Love”. Speakers include Russian LGBTQ activists and Peter Tatchell. More here.
December 7 March to stop the closures of Sunbury and Staines Fire Stations. Assemble 11.30am in Forest Drive, next to Sunbury Fire Station More from Surrey FBU
January 18Southern NSSN conference (hosted by UNITE Bracknell) ‘Building the Fightback against Austerity’ – 2pm to 5pm, Priestwood Community Centre, Bracknell